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Rewards for Results: The Sabbatical as the Ultimate Reward

The above photo is of Troy, our Head of Product & User Experience, and his wife, Joni, in Rome, Italy. For Troy’s Kabbage sabbatical, they spent six weeks traveling in Spain, Italy and Greece.

Remember how exciting summer vacation was? The pure joy of freedom and no responsibility – just time to play, relax and have fun with friends. It was the memory of summer vacation that prompted our CEO to consider what we could do at Kabbage to mimic that excitement. He thought, “Why can’t we have that as adults? Why can‘t we have that time to be free, explore and recharge?” With a “be reasonable” PTO policy already in place, he wondered what else he could offer as an extra reward and incentive.

Creating the Kabbage Sabbatical Program

To recreate the excitement and reward of summer vacation, our founders decided a sabbatical would be a great way to acknowledge team members for their long-term commitment and contributions over the course of their employment. A sabbatical would encourage loyalty, of course, but also would demonstrate to our team members how much we value them, that we want them to have incredible and interesting lives outside of work and that we recognize their commitment as something special.

When discussing how to structure a sabbatical program, Kabbage’s leaders knew it needed to be compelling. They decided a six-week sabbatical after every five years of continuous work felt like the right length of time. On top of that, the sabbatical is fully paid. If that weren’t enough, they decided to include a $6,000 stipend to encourage team members to do something memorable with family and friends.

For a company with a core value of caring deeply, this is one of the ways we can see how our values shape the way decisions are made.

Kabbage Team Members: Their Sabbatical Experience

Since the first employee became eligible in October of 2015, we’ve had four people go on sabbatical. They’ve done everything from traveling throughout Europe to spending time with family in other parts of the U.S. and even volunteering to protect endangered animals in Africa. We have 16 more team members who will be eligible for their sabbatical in 2017, many of whom plan to cross items off their bucket lists, like sailing the Greek Isles and running a marathon in Europe.

As people have started to earn their sabbatical time, we have come to realize that the benefits are far-reaching. Those who go on sabbatical are appreciated and get significant time to recharge with financial benefit. Our other team members see the fantastic things our first sabbatical earners have been able to do, and many aspire to stick with the company to enjoy the benefit themselves.

Ultimately this creates exponential returns for Kabbage: we get to spoil the people that mean a lot to us and encourage talented people to remain committed to the company. It’s a win-win. We’ll take it – and keep giving it.